Salle Le Peletier

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The Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique, the official title of the Paris Opera ca. 1821

The Salle Le Peletier or Lepeletier[1] (sometimes referred to as the Salle de la rue Le Peletier or the Opéra Le Peletier)[2] was the home of the Paris Opera from 1821 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1873. The theatre was designed and constructed by the architect François Debret on the site of the garden of the Hôtel de Choiseul on the rue Lepeletier.[3] Due to the many changes in government and management during the theatre's existence, it had a number of different official names, the most important of which were: Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique (1821–1848), Opéra-Théâtre de la Nation (1848–1850), Théâtre de l'Académie Nationale de Musique (1850–1852), Théâtre de l'Académie Impériale de Musique (1852–1854), Théâtre Impérial de l'Opéra (1854–1870), and Théâtre National de l'Opéra (1870–1873).[4]


Performance of Charles-Simon Catel's opera Les bayadères for the inauguration of the Paris Opera's Salle Le Peletier on 16 August 1821

When King Louis XVIII's nephew, Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry, was fatally stabbed on the night of 13 February 1820 in front of the former theatre of the Paris Opera, the Salle de la rue de Richelieu, the king decided that the theatre would be demolished in order to build a commemorative chapel in its place. However, the project to build a chapel was never carried out due to the 1830 revolution. Today the Fontaine Louvois in the Square Louvois occupies the spot where the chapel would have been built.[5] The Salle de la rue de Richelieu had been the principal venue of the Paris Opera since 1794. Very soon after the death of his nephew in February 1820, the king commissioned the architect François Debret to design a new theatre for the Opéra on the Rue Le Peletier, which was completed one year later. During the construction the opera and ballet companies occupied the Théâtre Favart and the Salle Louvois.[6]

The Salle Le Peletier was inaugurated on 16 August 1821 with a mixed-bill that opened with the anthem "Vive Henry VIII", and included the composer Catel's opera Les bayadères and the Ballet Master Gardel's ballet Le Retour de Zéphire.[7] Although the theatre was meant to be temporary and was built of wood and plaster, it continued to be used by the Opéra for more than fifty years. Many of the great grand operas of the 19th century were presented for the first time on its stage, among them: Rossini's Guillaume Tell (1829), Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable (1831), Halévy's La Juive (1835), and Verdi's Don Carlos (1867).[8]

The theatre, which was 14,000 square metres in area with a 104 ft. stage, was quite advanced for its time.[citation needed] On 6 February 1822 gas was used for the first time in order to light the stage effects in Nicolas Isouard's opera Aladin ou La Lampe merveilleuse.[9] The stage and orchestra pit were able to be removed in order to transform the auditorium into a massive hall which could accommodate large balls and other festivities.


Along with the Ballet of Her Majesty's Theatre in London, the Salle Le Peletier played host to the heyday of the romantic ballet, with such Balletmasters as Jules Perrot, Arthur Saint-Léon, Filippo Taglioni, Joseph Mazilier, Jean Coralli, and Paul Taglioni staging many masterworks for the Paris Opera Ballet. Among these works: La Sylphide (1832), Giselle (1841), Paquita (1846), Le corsaire (1856), Le papillon (1860), La source (1866), and Coppélia (1870). Among the great ballerinas to grace the stage of the Opéra during this time were Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Carolina Rosati, Fanny Elssler, Lucile Grahn, and Fanny Cerrito.


In 1858 the Salle Le Peletier was the setting for one of the most famous games in the history of Chess, the Opera Game between the American master Paul Morphy (White) and two French aristocrats, the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard. The game was played in the Duke's private box during a performance of Bellini's Norma.[11]


On the night of 29 October 1873, the Salle Le Peletier met the same fate as many of its predecessors: it was destroyed by a fire which raged for 27 hours, believed to have been started by the theatre's innovative gas lighting. Fortunately, in 1858 Emperor Napoleon III had hired the civic planner Baron Haussmann to begin construction on a second theatre at a more prominent location for the Parisian Opera and Ballet based on the design of architect Charles Garnier. In 1875, the new theatre, today known as the Palais Garnier, was inaugurated.


Notable premières[edit]




  1. ^ For examples, see Castil-Blaze (1855), L'Académie impériale de musique, p. 172 Archived 2021-10-04 at the Wayback Machine, and Encyclopédie d'architecture, vol 4 (1875), pp. 7, 8 Archived 2021-10-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Le Peletier has also been spelled Lepelletier. See Mead 1991, p. 48.
  3. ^ Mead 1991, p. 48.
  4. ^ Levin, Alicia. "A documentary overview of musical theaters in Paris, 1830–1900" in Fauser 2009, p. 382.
  5. ^ Barbier 1995, pp. 34–35.
  6. ^ Pitou 1983, 1: 38, 44.
  7. ^ Pitou 1990, pp. 758–760.
  8. ^ Simeone 2000, p. 192.
  9. ^ Simeone 2000, pp. 191–192.
  10. ^ Almanach des spectacles, J.-N. Barba, 1831 S. 23 (online Archived 2022-01-30 at the Wayback Machine).
  11. ^ The Exploits and Triumphs, in Europe, of Paul Morphy, the Chess Champion, Frederick Edge, D. Appleton and Company, New York (1859) pp. 172–173.
  12. ^ Gounod's Faust premiered at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris on 19 March 1859 as an opéra comique with spoken dialogue. Recitatives were added for a production in Strasbourg in April 1860. It was first performed by the Paris Opera (with ballet music added) on 3 March 1869. See Loewenberg 1978, column 939.
  • Barbier, Patrick (1995). Opera in Paris, 1800–1850: A Lively History. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-0-931340-83-3.
  • Fauser, Annegret, editor; Everist, Mark, editor (2009). Music, theater, and cultural transfer. Paris, 1830–1914. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-23926-2.
  • Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5.
  • Mead, Christopher Curtis (1991). Charles Garnier's Paris Opera. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-13275-6.
  • Pitou, Spire (1983). The Paris Opéra: an encyclopedia of operas, ballets, composers, and performers (3 volumes). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-686-46036-7.
  • Pitou, Spire (1990). The Paris Opéra: An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers. Growth and Grandeur, 1815–1914. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313262180.
  • Simeone, Nigel (2000). Paris: a musical gazetteer. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-08053-7.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°52′23″N 02°20′20″E / 48.87306°N 2.33889°E / 48.87306; 2.33889